No one doubts that Sharon is elected Prime Minister again
The current elections in Israel remind Boris Yeltsin’s election for the second term. The situation in the country was going worse and worse, but there was no other alternative. The same is happening in Israel at the moment. The conflict with Palestinians is in full swing, there are no security guarantees for the civil population, the country suffers from the biggest economic recession over 50 years, the growing unemployment causes a serious damage to the middle class. Nevertheless, there is no alternative for Sharon. According to poll results, the Labor Party and its leader Amram Mitzna failed to offer such an alternative to the people of Israel. As they believe in Israel, economy is not the prime goal always, especially now. The defense expenditure has reduced in the country over the recent ten years, although those costs were usually very high. However, Israel’s defense costs have been going up again over the last two years. The defense spending exceeded ten percent of the government spending in 2002. This is twice as much as in the USA.
The economic situation is aggravated with the absence of the government, which is formed with one party. Orthodox religion parties demand social costs should be increased, which irritates economists. The situation, when a winner party is not able to form the government, is the major trouble of the Israeli political life. The elections to the Israeli parliament take place on the base of the proportional system. People vote not for a certain politician, but for a party list. The contents of those lists often become a reason for various party intrigues – exactly like we have it here in Russia. Some parties conduct primary voting in order to identify their list candidates. In religious parties the situation is different: leaders appoint would-be parliamentarians themselves.
The limit for taking a seat in the Israeli parliament is rather low – only 1.5%. That is why, a lot of various parties, big, medium and small, can get their access to the parliament. This is democratic, although this is not practical. A winner party can not get the majority in the parliament of 120 seats and to form its government alone. When elections are over, they always start negotiations to form the coalition. The leader of the winner party, who becomes the prime minister, will have 28 days for that.
After Ariel Sharon won the elections in 2001, he established the government of seven parties at first. Elections to the parliament take place every four years. However, they usually take place ahead of the scheduled time in Israel. This happens after governmental parties refuse to participate in the coalition. Israeli three latest governments with leaders Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon did not manage to finish their activities, for the coalitions fell to pieces.
In 1996 Israel decided to experiment, when they separated parliamentary elections from the election of the prime minister. They wanted to cut the political ambition of small parties that way. As a matter of fact, it happened vice versa: both Likud and the Labor Party gained fewer votes, although smaller parties increased their influence in the parliament. Separate elections led to a very unusual result that year: Benjamin Netanyahu became the Prime Minister of Israel, although his party took only the second place in the Knesset. This year Israel decided to go back to the normal system: the leader of the winner party will become the prime minister. That is why, Sharon explained that during his pre-election campaign: if you vote for my party, you vote for me and vice versa.
They say that Sharon has the speech of the winner ready. There are very few people, who doubt in his victory, despite those financial scandals, in which his sons were implicated. Nevertheless, a lot of newspapers can’t help writing something sarcastic about it.
Haaretz columnist Yoel Marcus characterized Sharon as a nice guy: “He has a sense of humor. He is so confident. He talks to the open space. He governs his government with a strong hand. This is the real king of Israel. If you feel that your life has become a lot better after 700 Israeli people died and 1600 were wounded, then it means that Sharon is just what you need,” wrote the columnist.
Sharon managed to show it to the Israelis that he will be able to answer their every question: who else is supposed to govern the country? Against Amram Mitzna’s background, Sharon looks like the person, who united the nation. He looks as a person, who can stand against Palestine, although this opposition has become way too much serious. As the Haaretz wrote, the defeat of the Labor Party would be the defeat of all those people, who believed that the situation could be changed. Specialists forecast the most serious defeat for the Labor Party ever: only 18 or 19 seats instead of the present 25. On the other hand, Likud is to extend its presence in the Knesset from 19 to 32 seats. Nevertheless, Likud will have to join the coalition anyway. Most likely, the coalition will be formed with religious parties that stand for tough policy concerning Palestine. People say that Sharon would not mind a union with the Labor Party, for it will be hard for hawks to live without doves.
Another forecasted surprise is the third place, or even the second place, maybe, which will be taken by the Shinui party. This party might obtain up to 16 seats instead of present six. Shinui is the secular party, which can be supported by Labor Party’s certain former followers. Shinui is likely is get into the coalition with Likud. Election results are exposed in Israel the next day. However, it seems that the people of Israel will have to wait really long in order to have peace and safety.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov